At the end of 2020, I finally claimed an important truth: I don’t love November and December. Sure, the holiday season is great. And I certainly enjoy good food, good friends, and good times. But, even in a non-pandemic year, these months always seem more heavy than festive for me.
One of my favorite social media stories last December was a collection of tweets from Mohammad Hussain, a Muslim man in Canada who celebrated a holly-jolly-deck-the-halls-with-everything Christmas for the first time. Like so many of us during the lockdown, Mohammad figured it would be fun to try something new. In this case, that something new was a full-on Christmas experience with his roommates, who seemed to know much more about Christmas than he did.
Mohammad’s tweets about his observations, insights, and activities during his very first Christmas went viral in no time at all. Two of my favorites: “People have very strong feelings about their Christmas traditions” and “You can buy yourself a gift but you can’t stuff your own stocking.” Yes, Mohammad, yes.
But, the observation that rattled me to the core was his first one:
A part-time job. Who among us has the time or bandwidth to add an extra part-time job to our schedules—one that comes with a price tag instead of a paycheck, I might add? And, is all of the extra work and exhaustion worth it?
Now, let me be clear, I’m not picking on Christmas here. The frenzy of the holiday season may absolutely be worth it for some people. My point here is that we often make things more complicated than they need to be. Mohammad’s brilliant observation sent me on path towards embracing the concept of simplicity, which is one of my three focus words for 2021.
Though I’m just starting this journey toward simplifying my life, I’ve already learned and changed quite a bit because I realize every day offers a new opportunity to simplify the challenges that get in our way. Each day we can approach our problems intent on cutting them down to size or we can turn them into another part-time job. Which one of these would be a better fit for your life? Exactly.
As it turns out, simplicity is one of the core themes in the book that I just wrote with my friends Robin Glasco and Michael Harper. The book, Kiss Your Dragons: Radical Relationships, Bold Heartsets, and Changing the World, challenges readers to embrace (kiss) their biggest, scariest problems (dragons) instead of letting the problems take over their lives. Part of kissing a dragon requires that we simplify the problems in our lives instead of making each problem three times more complicated than it actually is.
Another part of kissing a dragon, as we discuss in the book, is surrounding yourself with a tribe of people who can help you see your problems in a different light, who can help you see the forest for the Christmas trees. It took a Muslim man from Canada to gain some perspective on a holiday I’ve been celebrating literally my whole life.
As we jump more boldly into 2021, I hope that you’ll join me on this journey towards simplifying the challenges that get in the way of courageous living. It won’t be easy—after all, we are all really good at making life more complicated than it needs to be—but I know we can do it together. Maybe I’ll even resist the urge to go full Clark Griswold on the Christmas festivities next year!